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Elvis Costello Was The Most Exciting Show At Hardly Strictly Bluegrass

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The main Friday evening kick-off concert at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park belonged to Elvis Costello this year.

Performing solo (10/5/12), Costello played a nearly 90-minute set of classics, rarities and covers to close the opening day of the fest.

Opening with "Welcome to the Working Week," from his 1977 debut album "My Aim Is True," and working his way through deep tracks from albums like "King of America" and "Spike," Costello was funny and loquacious.

"I'd like to introduce my special guest for the afternoon," he said before performing the obscurity "Ghost Train." "It's me!"

He also dusted off vintage ballads like "Shipbuilding" and "Last Boat Leaving."

"I'm gonna sing you a couple songs about exile," said Costello, before singing the latter song and '80's "New Amsterdam." "That's how we all ended up here in the first place."

And the quips and hits just kept coming.

"I'm going to sing you a song I really hate," Costello said. "...I wrote it in ten minutes, it was a hit for five minutes. And then I felt all unclean, inside and outside."

That was his intro to "Every Day I Write the Book."

With the sun setting, Costello closed with crowd-pleaser "What's So Funny About Peace, Love and Understanding" and the less well-received recent track "Sulphur to Sugarcane."

Here are some photos I shot of the gig:

Elvis Costello at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass
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